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Dream Dinners Review

Dream Dinners Review

Recently, I bid on and won a silent auction at a school fundraiser. I was pretty excited since I:

A. don’t win much and B. wanted to try Dream Dinners to see what it was all about. The “voucher” said I had to bring a friend, so I invited my friend Chris Glass, who loves food and is always up for a little adventure. The voucher cost me $45, but said it was a $75.00 value.

We scheduled our meal making session for a Thursday night at 7:30. We first met with one of the owners who had used the service herself a few years back. She explained the “plate points” and various offers that the company provided. While we were waiting, a busy mom of 4 boys popped in to grab meals for a month that were bagged up and ready to go. Convenience is the name of the game here.

The way it works is that each meal has a station and some ingredients for meals may overlap. For example, you may need minced garlic for 2 meals, so the stations sit next to each other. Each ingredient is kept in a bin with appropriate serving sizes for each one. You start by putting a gallon-sized or smaller bag into a plastic receptacle, similar to a silverware holder, then add ingredients to it. You end with 2 or 3 separate bags of ingredients that you place into one large Ziploc bag with instructions on how to cook the food. There are samples of other meals and side dishes out to try before you cook, which was nice.

You can freeze all of the meals, or keep as many out in your frig that you’d like to cook. Servings come in 3’s or 6’s, which I found a little odd since most people that would use the service would need them for a family. I guess you can see it as “small or large family”.

This week, I chose to make chicken yakitori. It was a combination of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, brown sugar, green onions and chicken. I can’t tell you the exact proportions (or I’ll have to kill you). Seriously, you are not allowed to take a picture or copy the recipe, since obviously they are branded by Dream Dinners. My friend made the workers nervous because he always has a camera around his neck. He got a few shots of me mixing spices, but nothing else.

I decided to try one of the meals this past week. I thawed out the meal the night before and commenced cooking. I noticed right away that the portion of chicken was a little skimpy for 3 people. I’m not a big meat eater to begin with, but typically shoot for 2-3 oz. per meal. I decided to add a bag of broccoli slaw to the chicken, then added in the sauce. The broccoli slaw really added more color, texture and volume to the meal. I boiled the white/jasmine rice while the chicken and sauce cooked. It took 10 minutes to cook (not 25 as the package suggested). You can make the meal healthier by using brown rice, farro or even quinoa VS white rice.

The taste of the meal was not awful, but it wasn’t the greatest either. The sauce was too salty for me, which could be remedied by using low sodium soy sauce. Had I not put the broccoli slaw in, the meal would look basically brown and white, which is not very appealing to the eye. Adding the slaw improved the color, increased the portion size and made it more nutritious. I would suggest they add some frozen broccoli to the meal to round it out more.

Overall, the experience of bagging up the meals was fun and the people were very nice. But, the first meal did not “wow” me and I won’t be dreaming of eating it again any time soon. For the cost of the meals, I may just stick with Pinterest and https://allrecipes.com to look for something more interesting to cook than I would make myself.

Earth Day T shirt sale 4-22 @ Washington Park!

Earth Day T shirt sale 4-22 @ Washington Park!

Join me Sunday, 4-22 from 12-5 PM at Washington Park OTR for my first official booth sale! Be your best as you “wear the wurst”. “Praise Cheeses” for mother earth! “Give a fork about food”.

Sizes range from S to XL in most designs. Shirts available for sale online and can also be found at the Epicurean Mercantile, Kennedy Heights Art Center and Clifton Market. Olive you for sharing this info!

Confessions of a ginger junky

Confessions of a ginger junky

Contrary to popular belief, many dietitians (like myself), do not spend their entire lives prepping and planning meals. While we may peruse the grocery store a bit longer than the average bear, we like short cuts just as much as the next shopper. We’re busy wives and moms with work to do, too!

It was probably a few years ago that I discovered the simplest trick to seasoning my food. I am, hands down, a ginger junky. I’d always loved the spicy taste of ginger but found fresh ginger root to be a wee bit too spicy and less than convenient to use to grate and add to food. While buying “jarlic” (minced garlic in a jar), I found ginger paste!

Ginger paste (made by Spice World or Garden Cuisine) is a combination of ginger, fructose, vinegar and salt. It has a few other innocuous preservatives and contains 15 calories per tsp. It’s available in a 10 oz. tube or 4 oz. tube in the refrigerated section of the store, depending on the brand. Ginger paste has the consistency of applesauce and has a fairly long shelf life. I prefer the 10 oz. version because you get much more for your money.

This simple spice trick can be used in oatmeal, marinades, vegetables, fish or sweet potatoes. I’ve added it to leftover quinoa with cinnamon and chopped almonds for breakfast or tossed it in my stir fry. It’s one spice I always have on hand.

Dessert hummus review

Dessert hummus review

There’s a push to eat more “pulses” (read beans, lentils) because they are so damn good for your gut and heart in addition to being convenient and easy on the wallet. Beans are loaded with fiber, especially the soluble type that lowers blood cholesterol, helps manage blood sugar and keeps good gut bacteria thriving. Love them or hate them, this bean trend is not going away any time soon. Know how I know? Chocolate hummus. That’s right. A Shark Tank product called “Delighted by Hummus” is being copied by a few other brands. Boar’s Head (the maker of lunch meat and cheese) was the brand I found at my local Kroger.

I was skeptical at first. I pictured traditional hummus (full of garlic and lemon) being blended with cocoa and/or coconut oil and tasting WEIRD. But with all food, I kept an open mind and decided to try it. Here is the run down:

The hummus contains 80 calories for 2 Tsp. and 4.5 grams of fat, which is 50% of the total calories, but most of the fat is unsaturated (not harmful saturated or trans fat). It’s low in sodium with only 40 mg and provides 10 grams of carbs, 6 of which are sugar (1 1/2 tsp). It contains 3 grams of fiber, which is a nice dose for a “dessert”. It’s not very high in protein, but most people don’t think of protein when they think of dessert.

I would liken the taste to pudding. It was soft, smooth and creamy. It paired well with strawberries, bananas and graham crackers. I could see adding some cashews, pecans or other nuts mixed in to give it some texture.The cost was higher and container smaller than traditional hummus ($3.99 for 8 oz. or 2 for $7.00 with a Kroger card).

Would I buy it again? Maybe. It would make a nice substitute for chocolate pudding if that’s your thing. But like any other dessert, moderation is key. Eat the whole thing and you’ve consumed over 600 calories in hummus. My next move? Stay tuned while I attempt to make the stuff myself!

Indian One Pot

Indian One Pot

Happy Spring!  Yup- I said Spring.  Even though your kids may be out of school and temps are warming up, it’s not quite summer and we’ve had some lovely cool weather this spring in Cincinnati.  I may not want soup, but Indian food always satisfies.

 

My husband and I discovered this awesome Indian simmer sauce at Aldi.  Now before you go screaming “high sodium, high fat!”, hear me out.  Products vary from sauce to sauce.  The Jalfrezi sauce has only 80 calories and 5 grams of fat per cup and 360 mg sodium.  When you consider all the yummy, healthy stuff you can add to it, this seems like a pretty good compromise.  And, it will cost you about $2.50 per jar and makes at least 4 servings, which will save you from spending $11-14 per entree at your favorite Indian restaurant.

 

I am all about simple, healthy meals and this has become a favorite at least twice a month. You can toss just about any vegetable into it, but I like frozen green beans, diced tomatoes and carrot coins for color. This recipe is also great for meatless Monday since you can use garbanzo beans or kidney beans as your protein source.  I add onions and various bell peppers, which add color and flavor as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants.  For vegetarians, iron absorption (from plants) is enhanced when combined with a food (like tomatoes or peppers) that contain vitamin C.  Win win!

 

We’ve made the recipe with leftover chicken as well, but honestly- the beans add a boatload of soluble fiber and taste great mixed with all the veggies.  Give it a whirl!   #aldi #simmer #sauce #dinner @AldiUSA

Ingredients

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 oz.) can unsalted diced tomatoes (not drained)

1/2 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen green beans

3 carrots, chopped or 1 cup frozen carrot coins

1 bell pepper (red or yellow), chopped

1 (16 oz.) jar Aldi Jalfrezi sauce

Directions:

  1.  In a medium sauce pan, add diced tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, onions and kidney beans and stir.
  2. Add entire jar of Jalfrezi sauce to vegetables.  Stir and simmer for ~30 minutes until carrots are soft.
  3. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

Makes 4 (1 cup) servings.  Nutrition information per serving (does not include rice): 242 calories, 6 grams fat, 10 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 480 mg sodium.

 

 

Spinach Blueberry Salad with Mukamame & Pistachios

Spinach Blueberry Salad with Mukamame & Pistachios

This simple salad is great for spring or summer.  I had the chance to work with Litehouse foods to develop a few recipes and this was one I created. Spinach and blueberries boast cancer-fighting phytochemicals as well as potassium and fiber.  Mukamame (shelled green soybeans) provide protein, fiber and texture.  Paired with Litehouse bleu cheese dressing and pistachios, this recipe will become a repeated favorite.  Add grilled chicken or fish to make it a complete meal!  #SeetheLite  #sponsored

Ingredients:

10 oz. baby spinach, washed and spun dry

1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned and dried

1 cup Mukamame (shelled green soybeans)- thawed if frozen

½ cup chopped pistachios

½ cup Litehouse bleu cheese dressing

 

Directions:

Place the spinach in a medium sized bowl.  Add blueberries and soybeans.  Drizzle Litehouse dressing over salad.  Add chopped pistachios over the dressing and serve.

 

Makes 8 servings:  Nutrition facts per serving:  162 calories, 12 grams fat, 1.6 grams saturated fat, 11.7 grams carbohydrate, 3.5 grams fiber, 4.6 grams protein, 4.8 mg cholesterol, 178 mg sodium.

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